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Tuesday, 28 June 2011

A little bit of music

No football in this post so we will take a look at some music, which for me is a very rare thing. Music is something i wouldn't write about if it wasn't the close season so make the most of it. Pre season starts this weekend, thankfully!
Anybody who knows me can vouch for the fact that my music taste can at best be described as "interesting" and at worst as "dreadful" with more folk going for the latter.
This in itself is quite strange. Some of my oldest friends, stalwarts of the "Up the field old boys" have fantastic musical knowledge and a huge passion for it. One of them is not only a highly skilled guitarist but also makes them to a very high standard, one of them does a mean impression of Run DMC, and another can often be seen in bars everywhere from Leicester to New York area looking for the next big thing. Absolutely none of this has rubbed off on me at all. In fact i have only ever been to one proper concert in my life. That being a KT Tunstall gig at Sheffield City Hall on the same night that England drew with Sweden in the 2006 World Cup.
The height of my musical achievements is probably managing to get the "Three in Ten" on Ken Bruce's Popmaster on BBC Radio Two a couple of months ago! For those who don't know you get ten seconds to name three hits from a certain artist; and who was the artist whose three hits i correctly named in the ten seconds? The one and only....MR RICK ASTLEY! Cool or what?
Hopefully later on this year i will hope to double my number of concerts by going to see Imelda May with BBC Leicestershire's Gavin Brown in Leicester.
I have seen the odd band play in a pub from time to time and the last of which i saw one with Gav; it really was an odd band, we were "treated" to seeing the Ghosties in Glasgow. I have no idea if they are still on the go but i have my doubts after watching them a couple of years ago. At least the Rangers v Kilmarnock game the day after was a great show.
I am really looking foward to the Imelda May gig and i am sure it will be a great night

Over and out

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Midweek stuff

Disappointing news today for Mind of an Imp blog tennis favorite Jelena Jankovic as she crashed out of Wimbledon tennis championships in the first round today. Oh well it saves me having to watch any of it now for the next two weeks i suppose. I am glad i didn't have a bet on her to win the whole thing at 66/1 now.

no smiles today :-(
On the Lincoln City front, a few more games have been added to the pre-season programme. On the 19th of July we take on City neighbours Lincoln United at Ashby Avenue. We are also playing Barton Town OB away on the same night. So we could well see the youth team play at Barton or it could be a mixture of youth and senior players and trialists at both matches. All being well we will be at Barton OB as its a new ground for out merry little gang.
A week later on the 26th of July again sees us play twice on the same day. We were already down to play Gainsborough Trinity away on that day but have now added Sleaford Town on the same date. Odds on it will be the youth team that takes to the field at Sleaford that night. We will be at Gainsborough as its only 15 minutes away and does fantastic chips. Enough said my Lord.
On the 30th of July the Imps will host former European cup winners (x2) Nottingham Forest with a 1.00pm KO at Sincil Bank in our glamour game of pre-season. Forest have recently installed former Lincoln City player, FC Twente, and England manager Steve McLaren as manager. Lets hope his East Midlands accent is better than his dutch one.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

An evening at the cricket

The last few weeks have been quite boring for this humble scribe to say the least. With the football and ice hockey closed seasons in full swing, and the NFL lockout showing no sign of ending its been quite hard to find things to blog about. However cricket has managed to come to the rescue as on Thursday night Baz and myself headed off to watch the mighty Nottinghamshire Outlaws take on the Durham Dynamos in the T20 cup at Trent Bridge. Despite being a cricket fan all my life and a 4 year playing career with the Gentleman of Lound Hall cricket club (where nine NOT OUT was my highest score) i had never been to a first class game. So it was time to rectify that.
We left Retford a little after 4.30pm, as you would expect traffic was heavy at that time of day, and we pulled up in Nottingham a little after 6.00pm. The area was quite busy as in addition to the cricket going on, Nottingham Forest had released their new shirt the same day and the club shop was open late thus there were quite a few people walking about with plastic bags emblazoned with the Forest logo, i can't quite see Lincoln getting this response when our new shirts are released. For those who don't know Nottingham both football grounds and Trent bridge home of Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club are pretty close together (less that half a mile). The main buzz listening to the various conversations on the walk up to the grounds was the Carling Cup draw that has paired Nottingham Forest with Notts County. It will interesting to see if Notts run buses to the City ground. It would be worth ringing up just to check.
We collected our tickets and then went in search of a kebab. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that you pretty much have a free hand as to where you want to sit inside of Trent Bridge, with only the members area (Cricket's name for season ticket holders) and the upper level of the stand behind the Radcliffe Road end being out of bounds. You are also free to take food into the ground which is very handy if you have a large lamb donner from Trent spice to eat. Once inside the ground the contrast to football is huge. There is an excellent range of food with a burger bar, jacket potato stall and a mobile pizza express wagon all serving fare that looked far superior to what you get inside most football grounds.
The programme was £2.50 and covered the first 5 home matches in the T20. You also got a a free scorecard which i didn't fill in but it was helpful for identifying the players. I also collected two free pairs of those annoying plastic things that you bang together to make noise, these do add to the atmosphere in the IPL (Indian premier league) but sounded a bit out of place on a cool overcast evening in Nottingham. Free cards with a 4 on one side and a 6 on the other side were also being given away for free so i bagged a couple of those as well.
As we munched our fodder the teams tossed up. Notts won and chose to bat first. This being a part floodlit match it is seen to be an advantage to bat first in the natural light and let the other side bat "under the lights" Notts skipper David Hussey said the plan was to pile on the runs and put Durham under pressure. Before play Notts were top of the northern group and had only lost one match in the competition so far; that being at third placed Durham on Tuesday evening. The Outlaws were out for revenge and that's exactly what they got.
Notts openers AD Hales and WH Wessels started to dismantle the Durham bowling right from the start with 14 runs coming from the first over alone. It was at this point that the novelty of waving the "4" card whenever a boundary was scored began to wear off. At the end of the Power play (Six overs) when the fielding restrictions applied Notts had raced on to 58-1 with Wessels the only man out.
Hales was in fine form an even an injury didn't halt his progress. He was unable to run so a runner was called which you don't often see in cricket these days. He eventually went for 67 but it didn't hold Notts up as Voges at number three added a quick fire 39. Notts skipper "Mr Cricket" David Hussey smashed an unbeaten 54. Patel added 10 with former England wicket keeper Chris Reed unbeaten on 4 with Hussey at the end. The whole innings had been a great example of attacking cricket with seven 6's (Four of them from Hussey including the last ball of the innings) and 20 4's. The Nottinghamshire outlaws had scored 213/4 setting Durham an imposing victory total of 214 to win. A very tough ask. We had planned to move around the ground but as we had got pretty good seats with a great view at mid wicket we chose to stay where we were. Plenty of beer was being drunk around us but it was a tad to chilly for me to partake. Maybe next time. The weather report had called for showers and the clouds did gather at the interval but thankfully the rain held off.
Durham are no mugs and in Onions, Plunkett, and Collingwood they have quality players with bags of England experience. Notts England stars Broad and Swann were watching it piss it down on the first day of the test match between England and Sri Lanka. Durham would have to attack straight from the start if they were going to make a game of it and that's exactly what they did. The opening pair gave them a decent platform and it looked as if they may give Notts a good run for their money. However Notts had other ideas; Patel gave a great display of containing bowling while Mullany ripped through the Durham top order reducing them to 69/5. They did steady the ship a little later on but fell well behind the required run rate. In the end Notts bowled them out for 159 in 19.3 overs. giving Notts a win by 54 runs.
I thoroughly enjoyed my first trip to the cricket and can thoroughly recommend it. For £15 its great value for money and the facilities at Trent Bridge are fantastic. We are hopefully going back in a few weeks so lets hope Notts keep up the good form. There are some things that can get a bit annoying like the blasting out of music between the overs although playing Eliza Doolittle's "Pack up" when a Durham wicket fell was amusing. All in all its a great way to pass a few hours.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

You know you've been relegated from the football league when...

You couldn't care less about the Carling Cup

Your fixtures are out a lot later than the football leagues.

The non league paper is the paper to read on a Sunday morning.

You can't find your team on the "who will win the league" coupons at the bookies

You know how to get to Forest Green Rovers

Grimsby Town have appeared on the fixture list

You don't bother to watch the football league show on BBC 1. Late night post pub viewing on a Saturday  is whatever crap's on Dave and some old porn dvds

The FA Trophy is all important

You can't wait to get to the snap hut at Kiddeminster Harriers

You get excited at the prospect of beating Accrington Stanley in the FA cup and being a "giant killer"

Your late night reading for the next six months consists solely of the Non league directory 2011/12

You don't have to read about your defeats in the national newspapers on a Monday morning

You don't have a long trip to Plymouth Argyle

You have a long trip to Barrow

You can take comfort in the fact that you wont have to have Steve Evans at your ground next season (unless the Great God of cup draws decides otherwise)

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Non league awards 2010/11

This post is dedicated to all the random matches that i saw in the 2010/11 season and my personal high and low points. This year saw me tick off quite a few new grounds. Its always fun watching football and being able to enjoy it without being worried about the result. Sometimes i lean towards one side or the other but i am never normally unduly concerned about the result. Having seen quite a few steps of the pyramid i have tried to judge each club by the level they play at and not against sides higher up the scale. You can't compare a step 7 club's set up with one from a step 3 club for example.

Best side seen
Carlton Town FC
I saw Carlton play three times last season. The first time was away at Granthm Town in the FA trophy when they completely out played their hosts to win 4-2. They impressed me so much that day that i decided to attend one of their home matches. In that game they smashed Shepshed Dynamo 7-2 after being 3 up in about ten minutes and 6-1 up at halftime. At this point they were hot on the heels of leaders Barwell and were scoring goals for fun and in the two games i saw were playing some fantastic football.
Carlton Town 7-2 Shepshed Dynamo
Sadly after Christmas their form slumped and they faded from the promotion picture. They did make it to the Nottinghamshire cup final but froze on the day and got battered 6-1 by Eastwood Town at Field Mill. Carlton don't get the biggest off crowds often getting less than 100 but they seem a well run club who have a management team who like to play open attacking football. I wish them well and hope to catch a game at their place at some point next season. Maybe before a Panthers home game.

Worst team seen.
Gainsborough Trinity
Way back in August i saw one of the worse performances i have ever seen from a home side in football (this was before some of Lincoln's kickings this season i hasten to add) Gainsborough Trinity 0-5 AFC Telford. Telford would go on to gain promotion at the end of the season but Gainsborough didn't even make them get out of 2nd gear that day. Trinity were also poor against Nuneaton Town when i took in that game.
Gainsborough 0-5 Telford
Gainsborough 1-3 Nuneaton

Best new ground visited
One of either Sheffield FC,Northwood FC. Carnt split them.

Best Clubhouse
AFC Hornchurch A tad on the pricey side but thats London for you. 2nd would be Cannon park, Retford United.
 
Outdoor drinking in London Town

Best programme
Again this is quite a tough one. In 2nd place would be Parkhouse fc. This is certainly one of  if not the best step 7 programme i have seen and was a cut above the others on offer on the ground hop. The winner though goes to Northwood fc. The original programme was for a league game which was cancelled to make way for this cup replay. So the original programme was accompanied with an insert for the cup match.

Worst programme
Notts FA senior cup final. This is the flagship event for the Nottinghamshire FA so you would have thought they would have put a bit more effort into the Programme. A couple of seasons ago for the Retford v Eastwood final they issued a great programme but it seems to have gone hill drastically

Best pub
The Coach and Horses at Sheffield FC. A great country style pub and home to the best pint of the season; a pale ale call "White Swan" and very nice it was too.

Best quote of the season
"Fu*k sake ref, who's that playing? Hong Kong Phooey?"

Heard from the Kirkby Town fc bench a couple of minutes into their match at Church Warsop fc. It amused me for the rest of the game anyway. Much more than the football did in fact.

Best fans of the season
I am going to go for Retford United here. Quite a few people who followed Retford through the good times went suddenly went AWOL this season as soon as it became apparent that it was going to be a very tough season. So i tip my hat to the ones that stuck it out home and away and kept up their support for the team. Retford have taken a voluntary drop on top of the relegation they received this season and are slowly rebuilding the club. Already they appear to be better organised with a new manager at the helm, a full pre season programme in place and new sponsors found. One reason some gave for not going was the admission price, even though it was inline with what other clubs charge. Well that has now been dropped so its over to the stay away crew now. Retford had a great bunch of fans  following them through all the defeats last season and it is for them that i hope the next few seasons are much better and built on a more solid base than it has been in the past.
I would like to give a special mention to the Shepshed Dynamo fans whos backing for the team was first class when i saw them at Carlton, even though they got hammered 7-2.

Best food of the season
To be honest nothing really stood out as being very good or very poor. Gainsborough had the best chips. If i was pushed i would go for the jacket potato and chilli at Parkhouse FC.  The meat and potato pies, chips and mushy peas were always pretty good at Retford as well.

Most welcoming club of the season
Got to go with Cray Wanderers with Corinthian Casuals a close second. Both places were great days out and i can throughly recommend a visit to either club. Although i preferred Corinthian's clubhouse, the kind of place you could really get plastered in.

Goal of the season
Kirkby Town's 1st goal against Arnold in the 3rd round Notts cup tie at Arnold.

Thats about it folks.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Congratulations!

Tyn church,Prague
At last a good news story for a team in red and white stripes. A 1-0 away win at FK Banik Most was enough for Prague's finest Viktoria Zizkov to win promotion back to the Czech Republic's top division. It would be rude not to celebrate this achievement without having a Czech beer, or two, or three...If ever we do a jolly boys trip abroad this ground needs to be visited. I would love to see a match here and of course everybody loves Czech beer. One problem; most of their home games kick off at 10.15am on a Sunday. At least they have plenty of Prague derbys with Sparta, Slavia and Dulka to look foward to next year!

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Best and worst of the 2010/11 season:Lincoln City

So as i place the beers in the fridge ahead of my last TV match of the season; the England v Switzerland European championship qualifier, I feel its time to look back over the season just gone. Like last year i will do it in two parts. A part dedicated to Lincoln and the other part to cover all the other random matches i have seen from across the non league pyramid. I have had a few weeks to ponder and reflect so here are my views.

Lincoln City player of the season.
This is a tough one to start of with. It goes without saying that any side that finishes 2nd bottom of league two is going to struggle for candidates for an award like this one. In truth you could count on one hand the amount of players that had a "good" season for Lincoln. I have whittled it down to three.
In third place for me is Delroy Facey. I am a big Delroy fan. Ok he isn't going to score 20 goals a season but his link up play creates plenty of chances for others. As soon as he was injured against Macclesfield the goals dried up for the rest of the season and the rot set in. His leadership qualities were also fantastic and was everything that Scott Kerr wasn't as a Captain.
In second place is a player who Chris Sutton judged surplus to requirements and sent out on loan for the first half of the season,; Danny Hone.
On his return he was the only defender who looked like he knew what he was doing and showed any fight. I am very glad that he has been offered a new deal by the club although I wouldn't blame him if he left for a league club because he is too good for us.
I never normally give loan players awards in things like this because technically they aren't Lincoln players but on this occasion I am going to throw all that out of the window. Had it not been for the goals of Ashley Grimes we would have been down long before the last game of the season. He suffered by the loss of Delroy Facey but put plenty of effort into his matches. I fully expect him to be playing and scoring plenty of goals in league one next season.

The most disappointing* player of the season
*feel free to replace this word with any others you want ;-)

Plenty of contenders here as you can imagine, so many i don't know where to start. The likes of Elliot Parish, Joe Anyon, Albert Jarrett, Julian Kelly, and Moses Swaibu were all poor at some stage but one man eclipses them all. The winner hands down of this award is Mr Drewe Broughton. He takes his place amongst the likes of Joe Allen and Tony Battersby as the worst centre forwards i have seen don the red and white stripes. Christ what a front three that would be eh folks?

Best home game of the season
Not too many to pick from but i will shoot for the home match with Maccelesfield. It was the game after Chris Sutton resigned which made for a good atmopshere, we played well, and it featured a great free kick from Jamie Clapham.

Worst home game of the season.
Again we have a whole batch of contenders here. I missed the 0-6 home defeat by Rotherham so i can't count it. Torquay, Bury, Shreswbury, Gillingham,and Aldershot all brought pitiful performances from the Imps but i am going to go for the 0-2 defeat by Cheltenham as it was a game that we really needed to get something out of against a poor team and we just crumbled.

Best away day
Easy enough for me. It has to be our trip to Bradford when the Imps came from behind to win 2-1.
Read all about it here! The 4-3 win at Stockport was also a contender and will take 2nd place with our trip to Oxford 3rd despite the poor result.

Worst away day of the season.
You get bad away days every season. However once in a while you get one that is an absolute stinker,one so bad you use it as a yard stick to judge crappy performances. "Yes we were shit but it wasn't half as bad as ... (insert game here)" as we can often be heard saying when we leave a match. Up until this season myself, Baz and Felice used the performances at Wycmombe and Chesterfield in 98/99 and Halifax in 99/00 as our yardstick of shite. This season we induct the away game at Accrington Stanley into this famous little group. The first new inductee into our great hall of shite for 11 years. That statistic alone give you a measure as to how crap we were that night. If you missed it read it all again here. But its not for the faint hearted. Burton Albion would be second, although it was made better by the failure of Felice's bread quest. Third was the opening day trip to Rotherham United. There are much better things to look at in the local area instead of watching a match at the Don Valley so why people go there beats me.

Best food of the season.
The meat and potato pie with mash and gravy at Stockport county wins hands down. The chips at Burton were also fantastic as were the burgers by all accounts.

Worst food of the season
This award is getting almost as predictable as guessing the winner of the SPL league championship for the last three years. Yes the award goes to Lincoln City FC! From burgers to pies and sausage rolls to hot dogs its all dreadful. If you must eat at the ground then please go for the food in the trust suite. Its much nicer.
Whilst on the topic of food i have to mention our regular pre match fish and chip shop. This being the King Neptune fish bar on the high street. We always get plenty and whatever we have, be it pie and chips, sausage and chips even the kebab and chips its always been very nice and great value. We look forward to contributing to their business in the coming season.
Away pub of the season
Two pubs stand out for me this season. We didn't go in too many last year but that is something i hope to rectify next year. I can't really split them but they are the Old Red Lion at Barnet and the Catherine Wheel at Oxford. I could have a decent session at either and on reflection it I would have been better staying in them instead of watching the matches.

Old Red Lion

Catherine Wheel
Kebab of the season
I know this could be included in the food awards but we have had quite a few this season so i think its only fair that they get  there own section. Last seasons defending champion of the kebab awards; Hannahs in Bradford is no longer with us so we have a new champion. In second place is the one we had at the pre season game in Bishop Storford called the Kebaberry. This year's winner is the mixed kebab we had on the way back from Accrington Stanley.
"Character" of the season
You tend to meet alot of "interesting and unique people" following a lower league football team and the 2010/11 season was no exception to that rule as we bumped into the normal assortment of weirdos. There was none stranger than the friend that Baz made at the pre season match at Bishop Storford. The guy was half stoned half drunk and took a shine to Baz. He told us how his gran was from Lincoln and was a Lincoln/Ipswich/Man Utd fan and quite boring to boot, well in my mind anyhow. His best quote was "They had a young old side did Germany at the World Cup"
Baz however was getting on with him like a house on fire. We moved behind the goal for the second half and he still followed us. We pretty much had the whole stand to ourselves but he still managed to stand a mere half inch from Mr Oxby. Reports seem to suggest that they are still in contact but I must stress Baz can't confirm these.

Best moments of the season
Having been relegated you can imagine there haven't been too many of these but if i had to pick one it would be Felice handing over the ticket money i won after our Delroy/Drewe bet and his comment of "I hope you choke on it you bastard".
His view on Jack Lester when he said "Pah! The cunts not good enough to lace my boots" was also priceless. I also enjoyed us getting lost in Southwest London in pre season when a combination of Baz's dodgy directions and having an A-Z of London that didn't cover the area of London we were in conspired against us. The antics of Kool Cat and Poacher before games at the Bank were also highpoints and provided us with more entertainment that the actual matches.

Worse moments of the season
 This sight after the last game of the season.